FULL MATCH REPORT
The Lockmen threw away two points after dominating Cradley for vast swathes of the game. With no regular keeper available, Tom Turner went in goal for Willenhall, looking to take points from their first game of 2015. They should have been ahead within twenty seconds as Harry Rickus was played through and saw his low drive well blocked, the ball bounced to Matt Dorgan who saw his header cleared off the line before a third attempt from Mikey Clark was blocked at the expense of a corner. Former Lockman keeper Matt Jones claimed Eddie Wilson’s corner. Another ex-Red in Chris Bladen saw a shot fired high and wide in The Ammers’ first attack on two minutes. Cradley had a free-kick awarded out on the left after nine minutes but the effort was straight at Turner who fielded the ball comfortably. David Almond was then played through two minutes later but Graham Ashton produced a goal-saving tackle to rob him of the ball. On 17 minutes The Lockmen had a free-kick out on the right but this was also cleared easily. Five minutes later and Lockmen skipper Paul Holden saw his effort blocked as he raced through the middle and exchanged passes to create the space. Matt Dove blazed over a minute further in before Danny Hemmings was caught in possession on 24 minutes, the ball was again worked to Bladen but his effort was blasted very high and very wide. On 26 minutes The Lockmen had a deserved lead when Rickus ran onto a clever pass in the inside left channel and he took the ball towards Jones before side-stepping him and rolling the ball home for the opener. On 33 minutes The Lockmen had another corner, taken by Wilson after Clark had proved a nuisance again. This was also claimed by the home keeper. Eight minutes before the break and Rickus was high and wide with his effort but he was involved a minute later when Willenhall extended their lead. A long goal-kick from Turner was heading for a throw on the Willenhall left when Rickus headed the ball back inside for Wilson. He ploughed forward and forced a brilliant one handed save from Jones low down to his left, however the loose ball ran as far as Clark who had the relatively simple task of finishing the move. Turner was then forced into a save for the first time on 41 minutes after a corner for the home team.
HT CRADLEY TOWN 0-2 WILLENHALL TOWN
Superb play at the start of the second half saw Hemmings set up Dorgan with a lovely ball, however, Dorgan had just strayed off-side and the goal was chalked off. Cradley’s Sam Wilkinson was then booked for a nasty and late challenge and further upset the referee by refusing to walk over to take his unsurprising yellow card. On 58 minutes he made another late challenge which was called a foul and then kicked the ball away to collect a second booking. As Cradley appeared to pick up the pace with it being helped by becoming disciplined, Almond was again freed through the middle but again fired high and wide. Ashton then had a lucky escape when his back-header hit the inside of his own post but bounced out to be cleared hastily. The Lockmen almost had a third on 66 minutes when home skipper Chris Whittaker almost found the top corner of his own goal with a sliced clearance, the ball dropping onto the roof of the net. From the resulting Wilson corner Dorgan glanced inches wide. Another couple of corners followed soon afterwards, the second again finding Dorgan who again headed narrowly off target. With fifteen minutes remaining, a now clearly injured Jones made a stunning one handed save to push Wilson’s low drive around the post to prevent a third and winning goal. Wilson took the corner and as it was eventually cleared out to Ashton he hit a fine drive from 25 yards out that flew just wide. On 82 minutes Rickus was again off target as The Lockmen looked to put the game to bed, his strike following a flowing move was a yard wide. The Ammers then stunned their visitors with two late goals. Firstly on 84 minutes, James Welnitschuk proffitted from a poor back-header from Kade Lewis, dropping onto the lose ball totally in the clear he fired well past Turner who was badly exposed. Two minutes later and the same player was not picked up and when the pass found him unmarked he fired across Turner and into the corner. The Lockmen had two chances after the goals to win the game but on 87 minutes Hemmings saw his effort blocked before from a Holden free-kick Wilson fired wide. The Lockmen should have won comfortably but they were punished for not taking their chances while Cradley deserved something more than plaudits for the way they rolled up their sleeves and fought for everything after being reduced to ten men.
FT CRADLEY TOWN 2-2 WILLENHALL TOWN
By Chris Burton – Match Secretary
Reproduction by prior-consent of The Lockmen Limited t/a Willenhall Town FC only